Stephen Gonzales was convicted today in Pomona Superior Courthouse of murder in the first degree for the strangulation and bludgeoning death of transgender woman Melony Smith.
Melony Smith’s murder in 2013 would have gone unnoticed if not for a blog post by Lexi Cannes allowing us to understand she was trans despite the misgendering and deadnaming by mainstream media of the time. Now in 2015, the conviction of the man who murdered Smith has also been largely ignored by media, with one notable exception, much to the dismay of her friends and family and trans community.
Fortunately, today’s conviction was witnessed by people who care and one of those people, Kerri Cecil reached out to Planet Transgender to make sure Melony Smiths story was told.
“Wednesday began with more than two hours of jury instructions by the Judge regarding the legal definitions of the charges brought against the defendant Stephen J Gonzales.” Said Cecil. “After a short break, Prosecutor Elizabeth Padilla began her first Closing Arguments. She was completely respectful to the victim, using the proper pronouns and using her chosen name of Melony.”
“Ms. Padilla went through all of the disturbing photographs taken at the scene of the crime. At one point, Melody’s older brother, who had not seen the photos before, jumped up out of his seat and yelled at the defendant “try that to me you motherfucking monster”. Her brother was escorted out of the courtroom and banned.”
“The evidence clearly showed how the gruesome murder took place. The deferent bashed in her head with a boombox radio knocking her out then strangled her by tying a sheet around her neck and choking her to death.”
“Once the defense attorney began her closing it was apparent to everyone that she was going to try to convince people that Melony was the cause of her own death. She referred to her as a “man” and said things like “man dressed as a woman”.
“After using “Male prostitute” numerous time to refer to Melony I had to leave the courtroom for fear of an outburst.” Said Cecil.
“Justice has been served for dear Melony Smith,” Cecil said. “Stephen J Gonzales has been found GUILTY of 1st Degree Murder, Sentencing will be February 11th 9 am. May this be a message to all those that prey on those that they think no one cares about” she added
Doing a google search tonight, there is little on this conviction. This seems highly unusual for the media to ignore this sort of courtroom drama. But Ceci said try as the might but no one from mainstream media joined the faithfully vigilant contingent from the trans community
“We reached out to numerous media sources” Cecil elaborated “Including the SGVTribune, LATimes, NBC, CBS, KTLA, and ABC. I did get some emails from two news reporters and both said that someone would come to the trial to cover it but none came. Beverly White from NBC LA said someone should come to cover the sentencing on the 11th.”
After publishing this article Michelle Valles, co-anchor at NBC 4 southern cal commented below that they would be doing a piece on the sentencing. You can read the article HERE and watch the video below. Thank you for letting us know you care Ms. Valles but out of respect for Melony, I have one thing to point out. “Transgender” is an adjective not a noun or verb. Again, many thanks to NBC 4 for covering this tragedy. R.I.P. Melony Smith